December 17 in Yankee History

  • Yankee fans were crushed when Jimmy Key left the Bronx and signed with the Orioles after the ’96 win in the World Series, and the fact that David Wells left the Birds and signed with the Yanks on December 17, 1996, was not greeted with glee. But “The Boomer” enjoyed two, two-year stints in the Bronx afterward, and went 34-14 each time, very impressive numbers. Continue reading
  • December 15 in Yankee History

  • Outfielder Dave Winfield became baseball’s highest-paid player when he signed a 10-year deal with the Yankees on December 15, 1980. Despite being eventually labeled “Mr. May” by an enraged George Steinbrenner, he would notch a World Series-winning hit with the Blue Jays later in his career. Dave contributed often and played hard in the Bronx. He smashed 205 homers with 818 rbi’s in eight-plus years, as he missed the 1989 campaign with back surgery and was traded to California for righthander Mike Witt 20 games into the 1990 season. Witt had been a front-line starter for years, and threw a Perfect Game in 1984, but he was way past his prime, and would go 8-9 during three seasons in the Bronx. Continue reading
  • December 14 in Yankee History

  • Being a baseball fan is supposed to be an enjoyable and life-affirming endeavor, and despite the undeniable tension we suffer during tight games, pennant races, and playoff contests, it fills those requirements admirably. But “into each life a little rain must fall” the saying goes, and December 14 is a day dominated by poignant and sad moments for Yankee fans. We’ll begin the list with this: MVP Yankee catcher Elston Howard passed away on this day in 1980. Continue reading
  • December 13 in Yankee History

  • It seems forever since we’ve led off a Yankee daily history report with a mention of Mickey Mantle. On December 13, 1961, The Mick signed a contract for the 1962 season. He would earn $82,000, the second highest Yankee total (to Joe DiMaggio) to that point in time. He would only play 123 games due to injury, but what would he earn today for the 30 home runs and 89 rbi’s? Continue reading
  • December 11 in Yankee History

  • “We play today; we win today.” Though he was a huge factor in the successful 1996 World Championship season, I am not prepared to tell you that the acquisition of free agent infielder Mariano Duncan on December 11, 1995, was the biggest Yankee news ever on the day. But his trademark quote from that glorious season is just too good to bury. The defense-challenged Duncan would survive less than half the 1997 season in Pinstripes, but the eight homers, 56 rbi’s, and in particular .340 ba were crucial to the ’96 team’s success. Continue reading
  • December 10 in Yankee History

  • It was a no-brainer when an Associated Press panel voted Babe Ruth Player of the Century on December 10, 1999, and I won’t even haggle with their nod to the splendid Willie Mays in the second spot. But we’ll need to have a talk with the ESPN “experts” who chose basketball player Michael Jordan over the Babe as Athlete of the Century in a similar end-of-1999 designation. The Sultan of Swat retired from playing some 70 years ago, but now, several years into a new Millennium, he is already once again talked about as often as the fading-from-memory Jordan. Continue reading
  • December 9 in Yankee History

  • December 9 is another problematic day in Yankee history, but the 12-year contract they signed on that day in 1988 with the MSG Network turned things decidedly in their favor. The $500,000,000 would pay the contract of many a player in those years during which they went from AL East basement (well, fifth place) to penthouse. Continue reading
  • December 8 in Yankee History

  • The only real Yankee positive that took place on December 8 is the birthday of recent mound stalwart Mike Mussina (see below), who retired after a very good 2008 season, because the day has not been a good one. Adding to the “bummer” aspect of the day, I am bending the rules in a baseball history column by leading off with the assassination of Beatle John Lennon on this day in 1980. Imagine there’s no heaven… Continue reading